The Dative Case
In the hallway, Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan. В коридоре, Анна дала Ивану книгу Игоря.
Ivan is the indirect object, which takes dative case. Verbs like "give" need both an indirect object and a direct object, because something is being given (the action is being performed on the object -- in this instance the book), and someone is being given that something (in this instance Ivan). This sentence would not be able to express its meaning without both cases.
Anna gave the book.
This sentence, though it is a complete one, only tells us that Anna performed the action of giving on a book -- one step more complicated than the sentence "Anna gave." We might want further information: to whom did Anna give the book? To whom (notice how the English changes "who" to "whom") is in the dative case. The sentence is written "...Anna gave Igor's book to Ivan." It could also read "...Anna gave Ivan Igor's book." "To" is not necessary, but it is easier to formulate the Russian if you can place the "to" in a sentence.
Some prepositions and some verbs also require the dative case in Russian. Among the verbs are "помогать/помочь" ("to help"), "(по)нравиться" ("to appeal to/like"), and "советовать" ("to advise"). Among the prepositions, a few actually do mean "to" ("к", for example). Some set expressions also require the dative, such as sentences where there are no subjects ("можно здесь курить?" -- "Is it permitted to smoke here?") and expressions of age ("Ивану 20 лет" -- "Ivan is 20 years old").
Below is a chart of the dative case endings, with nouns listed first, and adjectives second in each gender. Please note that the nominatives are listed in the middle, and the datives are on the right. Remember, too, that each ending can vary according to set rules depending on the hardness or softness of the stems, and on the spelling rules.
NOTE: The masculine and
neuter endings are
the same for both nouns and adjectives.
Test yourself with the dative case exercises.